With 49ers OTAs in full swing, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the team’s roster to figure out the strengths, weaknesses, potential dark horses to make the team and other nuggets about the players who will be competing for jobs on the 53-man roster.
Quarterback has once again been the single biggest talking point of the 49ers offseason. Injuries at the position continue to throw any potential stability off kilter, leaving question marks about any long and short-term answers at the most important position on the field.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan along with the 49ers front office have constructed a roster that can survive the turbulence under center. However, there’s still a requisite level of play needed at the position to put the club in contention.
Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe the group of QBs the team put together this year will be enough to carry them through the season should any one or two players be unavailable during the year.
Here’s a quick look at each QB on the 90-man roster:
The elbow injury Purdy suffered in the NFC championship game is a big reason there’s a lack of clarity as to who will start in Week 1. Shanahan is optimistic Purdy will be able to return for the season opener, and it appears whenever Purdy is healthy he ‘ll be reinserted as the team’s No. 1 signal caller. Shanahan last season showed a lot of confidence in the rookie QB with how he called plays. Now he and Lynch have noted on the record that Purdy is the leader in the clubhouse to retain the starting job. For now the focus has to be his health. None of the offseason talk matters until he’s cleared and capable of playing the position at a high level again.
This is a fascinating offseason for Lance. While Purdy is the leader in the clubhouse to start, there’s not an unrealistic chance the former no. 3 overall pick works his way into the conversation. Lance made some key improvements during his time away from the team this offseason, and he’ll get plenty of opportunities in OTAs, training camp and the preseason to show how impactful those improvements are during live reps. Things get very interesting if Lance does shine and show considerable growth in his mechanics and decision-making during camp and the preseason. He can’t control whether the team is ready to take the keys away from Purdy, but he can certainly make it a decision for the coaching staff.
The Darnold addition is fascinating. He could push Lance for the QB2 job if we’re assuming Purdy is the starter. However, if Purdy is going to miss time, Darnold suddenly moves into the QB1 conversation. There may not be a player on the roster with a greater variance than Darnold. Perhaps he realizes his potential in Shanahan’s offense surrounded by this talented group of skill position players. In that event he might just be the best QB on the roster by the middle of the year. He could also simply be who he’s always been in 55 NFL starts – inaccurate, a poor decision-maker and the kid from the Sixth Sense (this is a ‘seeing ghosts’ joke). In that case he’s probably set as the QB3 and fighting for a roster spot.
The most likely outcome for Allen is that he’s an additional arm to chew up some reps in OTAs, training camp and the preseason. He may work his way to the 49ers’ practice squad. On the other hand, he could find himself in a battle for a roster spot if Purdy suffers a setback or one of Lance or Darnold really struggles. Given that he’s been a career backup and spent the last three years behind Joe Burrow in Cincinnati, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Allen steps in and wins games for the 49ers. As a camp depth piece and potential QB3 though he’s probably overqualified.
Story originally appeared on Niners Wire